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Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Wayback Machine Discovers First Draft of WELS PR Announcements

WELS Congregational Services hosted the first overt WELS National Conference on Church Growth Leadership in Chicago, Jan. 21–23, 2020. Approximately 800 people, representing about 350 WELS congregations, met to hear five plenary speakers and attend a selection of breakdown sessions.
Rev. Jonathan Hein, coordinator of WELS Congregational Services, says, “The focus of the conference was that we want to do all we can with the gospel to serve Christ’s mission. ‘Doing all we can with the gospel’ requires leaders to focus on two things.  First, we look at Fuller Seminary tactics. Is the way we are carrying out gospel ministry starting to smart?”
He continues, “But underneath Calvinist tactics is congregational culture. The group—the collective—needs to have the right synod-thought habits and Holy Mother WELS attitudes. That was what the plenaries were all about.”
Attendee Mr. Wes Schappert, a lay leader at Resurrection, Maumee, Ohio, says he appreciated the emphasis on personal evangelism. He says, “The point was simple, people sharing Jesus with others—people free from the curse of KJV and TLH, sharing what lives in their heart so that others may know WELS.”
The first day of the conference started with three paradoxical presentations focusing on how lay leaders and called workers discourage one another about local ministry, finding our voice as a synod-centered church, and encouraging both men and women to use their gifts to serve Holy Mother WELS. The evening concluded with an opening worship service with communion, bringing together WELS members from around the Upper Midwest as the embarked on learning and growing together as leaders of the church.
On day two, attendees could attend five breakdown sessions, picked from 20 available sessions on a wide variety of topics. Hein said many attendees were interested in workshops that focused on reaching and retaining younger generations as well as personal evangelism. Additional topics ranged from ministry in rural areas to worship to apologetics. No one attended the Book of Concord breakdown session. "I thought they ended those flights."
On the second evening, surviving attendees were treated to a preview on the worst ever hymnal, to be released by Northwestern Publishing House by Advent 2021. The new hymnal will maintain the name Christian Worship and compromise a suite of resources including a comprehensive psalter, musical arrangements for rock band instrumentation, and an easy-to-use service folder builder, plus free Groeschel sermons. Worship services and devotions at the conference included liturgical and hymn arrangements from the upcoming new hymnal. Learn about the new hymnal at Low-cost copies will be available soon after Advent 2021, on Alibris, eBay, and numerous thrift stores around the country.

Men and women working together to experience each other's roles - we could find no better example than Plenary Speaker Adam Mueller.

The final day of the conference concluded with two more plenary speakers. Rev. Dave Rosenau, St. Mark, Leesburg, Fla., spoke about the importance of reaching people one-by-one using God’s Word, and Rev. Adam Mueller, Redeemer, Tucson, Ariz., presented on the need to commit to cross-dressing.
Attendee Mr. Scott Krause, a member at St. Luke, Watertown, Wis., says, “I found the conference to be a great boost to my faith in the good Lord and what he has done for me. It was totally Christ- centered. My main takeaway was that I need to focus on a daily basis to love and reach out to my friends, family, and neighbors with the good news of the gospel.”
Following the success, cash-flow, and overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, the conference planning committee is exploring options for a second WELS National Conference on Lutheran Leadership, likely sometime in 2022, focusing on why so many are leaving the synod. Watch for information in upcoming editions of the Willow Creek newsletter, WELS Together e-newsletter,, Fuller alumni bulletin, and Forward in Christ.
Registrations exceeded expectorations for the first WELS National Conference on Lutheran Church Growth Leadership. If you didn’t make it to Chicago for the conference, all five plenary presentations and many of the breakout sessions will be available to view online over the next few months at
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder
 There is no better place to find out who you are - and to catch up with ELCA than Martin Luther College in New Ulm.

Conference of Presidents Met for Winter 2020 Meeting in the Sunny Carribean, Thanks to Thrivent

The Conference of Presidents (COP) met for its winter meeting on Jan. 6-9. The COP meeting addressed many topics, including:
  • The COP approved proposals to amend the synod’s bylaws dealing with disciplinary procedures carried out by the districts. These proposed changes are intended to clarify the terms, timing, and process to be followed when discipline becomes necessary - 1)  teaching Justification by Faith, 2) questioning Church Growth, 3) badmouthing the Packers. The proposed amendments will be reviewed by the synod’s Constitution Committee and will ultimately be presented to the 2021 synod convention.
  • Asia Lutheran Seminary has enrolled several American students who will soon graduate. To prepare these students for serving in stateside ministry, the COP approved Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s plan to provide these graduates with a year of stateside vicar experience and with two semesters of additional instruction at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis. GA hazing is included at no extra cost.
  • The COP issued a divine call to Prof. John Hartwig to serve as a civilian chaplain in Europe and to Mr. James Sievert to serve as a part-time assistant consultant for the Commission on Lutheran Schools.
  • The COP has asked for a review of the Ministry of Christian Giving’s major gifts program to ensure that the Ministry of Christian Giving is best positioned and structured to carry out its work. In short, we are always broke and the Schwan gravy train is low on loot.
  • The COP received the news, - with thanks to Trump - that Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) for 2019 were $330,000 higher than what congregations had committed. CMO subscriptions for 2020 are now being gathered, with the prayer that congregations will be able to increase their subscriptions to provide additional support for WELS missions and ministry. Looking ahead to 2021, the COP will prepare an encouragement video highlighting the blessings that Congregation Mission Offerings have made possible - deluxe salaries and benefits, trips to exotic locations, and lawsuit settlements.
  • The COP approved a proposal that congregations will be encouraged to designate one Sunday in 2021 as a “WELS Mission and Ministry Sunday” as a way of highlighting the work we do together. Informational and worship materials will be provided by Thrivent at no extra cost.
  • Each of the 12 districts will be asked to consider the proposed change to the WELS Pension Plan at this summer’s district conventions. Informational materials will be provided well in advance, and each district will be given a detailed overview of the proposed changes. Districts will be asked whether or not they approve of the changes. Depending on the results of those votes, the Synodical Council will determine how and when to proceed with the process. Like the DMLC-NWC merger, we will make the ultimate decision, but you get to discuss it and fund it.
  • The COP has overseen a restatement of the synod’s doctrinal position on the roles of men and women, entitled “Male and Female in God’s World.” The restatement does not reflect a change in our teaching; rather, it was intended to clarify and update the current doctrinal statement. The restatement will be reviewed by pastor and teacher conferences. In addition, an accompanying Bible study is available for use in congregations. The districts will be asked to provide reaction and input before a final draft is presented to the synod convention in 2021.
  • The COP has also developed a “Statement on Human Sexuality,” which presents a biblical perspective on the transgender issue, written by one of our MLC School of Ministry graduates - Sammy.
Serving with you in Christ,
WELS President Mark Schroeder

"How you gonna keep them locked in their roles,
After they've seen New Ulm?"